This is the third album from UK death metallers Venom Prison.
Venom Prison have made a sterling reputation for themselves with their 2016 debut album Animus, their 2019 follow up Samsara, as well as some scorching live appearances.
Erebos is the band’s longest album yet, boasting 49 minutes of music that might not be what you’re expecting if you’re familiar with the band’s older material. The longer running time of the album and the longer, on average, song length, has been made the most of. The songs are well-crafted and self-assured. They know they’re good, and therefore don’t need to waste time on superfluous filler; even the intro track here is worth hearing.
Erebos finds the band moving away from the impenetrable extremity of Samsara, into more ambitious realms. Make no mistake, the spiky aggression and hardcore intensity still appears in places, but this core of Venom Prison has been augmented with many additional elements. These take a variety of forms across the songs, including an increase in melody, a greater focus on atmosphere and mood, a more coherent/accessible sense of heaviness, and more cleanly-sung touches. There’s a even a blackened feel in places. Essentially, the chaotic, violent heart of the band has been chained with melodic fetters and charged with creative energies, resulting in a snarling slab of diverse heaviness that comes surprisingly close to beauty in places.
The music is well-balanced between the brutal Venom Prison we know, and the melodic, genre-expanding new monster that we don’t. At least, not until we come to know it across these ten tracks. This new aspect of the band reveals itself straight away in the character and presentation of the songs, but also keeps some secrets for itself, drawing the listener repeatedly back. These return visits are not just for the crushing riffs and the well-judged songwriting, but for the hidden musical gems that litter the album’s playing time. Ultimately though, Venom Prison have written an album of very strong songs, which is why it’s hard to not just stick the album on permanent repeat and be done with it.
All of the band members excel across Erebos, but I must, of course, particularly mention their singer, as she gives the best performance of her career so far. Passionate, characterful, and scathing, her screams, roars, and growls tear through the music like merciless predators. We also get introduced to her expressive clean singing, which ranges from powerful to beautiful, and is wonderfully delivered.
Erebos finds Venom Prison confidently striding forth from the underground and into the big leagues. If you’re looking for a repeat of Samsara you’ll be disappointed, but if you want an evolution of it, you’ve come to the right place. The band have created a multifaceted album that takes a variety of influences into itself, and delivers a well-rounded, thoroughly engaging metal experience with a very individual voice.
This new Venom Prison has seriously impressed.